Thursday, November 18, 2010


At last, some holidays, my first holidays that are for relaxation and recreation.

I'm off to Japan, specifically, Osaka and Hiroshima.

Only 5 days. but I do have a friend to catch up with, and I'll be getting guided tours around some photogenic sites, plus enjoying the local nosh.......

Preparations for this trip have demanded my attention, so that explains the lack of hobby bench time.

So once I get back, I'll be completing Mirei-san, and then posting some pics here.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mirei-san; getting the chair height right

test fitting the parts, so the chair is the correct height. Well I lashed the figure together, temporary fittings, with Tamiya tape and blue tack, then measured the gap between wher her shoe floated in space, and the ground.

Removed the offending bot of pipe, and voila, looks like Mirei is actually going to be able to use the chair.

The upright that goes between the chair and the swivel stand was originally made out of resin, but I replaced it with a combination of an inner brass tube with an outer layer of Evergreen styrene tube, to help fill the gap. (almost a perfect fit - bonus!)

I did that for strength issues, didn't want the chair bending on a warm day, if I could avoid it.

Also need to clean up her skirt - laid down the base coat, then fumble it, smudged the wet paint with my fingers, and got it dusty and gritty. So thats a bit of a rework I'll have to do.

Still, now the major components are coming together (and in colour) I am looking forward to completing this even more!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mirei-San; details on the eyes, lips and bra

Having done the eyes, decided to work on the Miriei-san has something to bat at us!

Used a warm brown, tinted it with back, rather then straight back. again, it may be a subtle thing, it just helps reduce the stark contrast.

Then I added in her eyebrows; I did go for a raised eyebrow look, although I was worried that it may have been too high. However, when I put her hair on (fringe and cascading down the sides) as a check, I noticed two things. The psotion isnt too bad (could be a bit lower, truth be told) and with her unpainted resin hair on, she looks like a real "Dirty Blonde" - innuendo intended.

I also worked on her lips. I did a quick swatch patch, partly as a warm up, partly to explain in picture form what I did. Not mentioned in the lip sheet is adding a layer of gloss to the lower lip. If going for a more realistic look, I would think about gloss for the lower lip, and satin for the upper. It is one of those little things, the cumulative effect of which is to give the figure a "whole" finish

Bra - opted for white on this - simpler. Plus, I didn't feel like mucking about with purple for the bra set.

I thinned the white down with gel medium, designed to thin paints down with out making the paint all runny and uncontrollable. So laid down my first coat, and gradually worked up the layer. Tried to add some uncut white, to imply lace texture. Around the tops of the lace 'weave', upper edges of the bra 'scalloping' (the semi circular pattern on the top side of the bra) and the little bow in the middle.

Next time I do some lace texture like this, I think I would thin down the white even more, or shift to a different shade of that purple, or black/ smoke, like the same effect I did for the stockings, for the bra. Still, a good idea to file away for next time.

Mirei-San; doing the face

Ok, more work done on the figure. Decided to do the eyes at this point, as everything is still easy to access, and I can rework quite happily, if need be.

I elected for an olive green; lack of covering power kind of put paid to that idea. So I opted for some blue in the mix, and reworked the eyes again. Oh, please note, the whites of the eyes aren't white; actually they are Vallejo Light flesh, which gives a much better result.

(I have seen straight white used, and it can give a bug eyes look. Heck, have done it myself when starting out. Works better if the white of the eye is 'cut' with a minor tint of pink)

I was struggling to get the eyes right, until I realised that I was missing a third reference point - the lips. So I blocked those in, in red, and all of a sudden, I could see what was lining up where.

Last pic is to show my start point.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Painting the figure - painting the stockings

Ok, having studied the tests, worked out how I should paint the stockings, my next step was to commit to actual paint......

I started by masking up the areas I wanted to remain in the original colour, then pre-tinted where I felt it seemed logical.

i.e backs of the knees, around the ankles, so forth.

(no work in progress pictures here though - I was in the groove, and not stopping for pictures...)

Once I had done my pre-tinting, then I laid down a coat over the top of this, trying to keep it as even as possible. For the whole, I think my efforts were successful, and I must remind myself this is my first effort at doing something like this.

Once I was happy with those results, I reached for the hairdryer, and force dried the first layer.

Then I quickly masked of the top of the thigh high stockings from the rest of them to lay down multiple thin coats, to build up density.

Over all, by varying the tones, this helps add to the textures and contours of the figure overall...well, the legs so far.

Going by the feedback of fellow figure painters, I seem to have achieved my primary purpose. Now to move onto the rest of the figure.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Painting the figure - preshading the legs

Before I went ahead and laid down my smoke paints for the stockings effect I deiced to preshade the legs, to help 'boost' the colours underneath, before being muted by the overlay of the 'stockings'.

For the entire figure, the flesh toes, I decided on doing something a bit different - I worked from the lightest tone (IE, the highlight tones) then added more pink to get to my mid tone, then added even more pink to get my 'shadow' tone. As this is a large (-ish) figure for me, and I am using an airbrush exclusively for the flesh, smooth toes are essential.

Plus, it was something different for me to try. (traditionally, most figure painters start with a mid tone, then lighten or darken accordingly, which works fine)
It can be seen where i have darkened the skin tone, in places the make sense to me; around the ankles and lower calves, the backs of the knees, where the legs cross, around the knee caps and on the underside of the thighs, where natural shadows would fall.

Glad I did, although I wasn't sure how it would turn out at the time, tilla fter the stockings were done.

Painting the figure - Stockings, planning and testing first

Stockings - are a sheer/ thin item of knit wear. Which means that loght will behave differently, depending on both how the stocking is compressed or stretched, and the underlying skin/ muscle tissue underneath.

This is one of the few times that research is really Fun! I had to research and examine images of ladies legs in stockings........

Then the work - what paints will give me the results I want.

I tired adding various shades of black or grey to the base flesh tone, to see what happened. All I got was a muddy colour, so that ruled that out.

Thinning paints down got fiddly quickly, because it would mean too runny paint - lacked control.

A reference book advised to use a 'smoke' colour. This can be seen every day on a car windscreen, that tinted band at the top. It cuts down glare, without blocking vision. Simply, it is a translucent paint, depending on how many layers of it is applied.

So a comparison test on my colour swatch seemed to confirm it.

Now I was set. Just a bit of pre work to do on the legs, first.

Painting the figure - the legs

Here are the legs, after the revised paint scheme. This was just a base coat. I did have problems with the legs, not so much in handling them, but in what to do with them until the paint dries..... a fellow modeler, Bob Chawgo reminded me of pinning and handles. So in the second part, it can be seen how I filled up a jar with some sand (nice, wide, short, fat, heavy jar) and just poke the dowel handles in the sand, to let the paint dry, with out fear of smudges, finger prints, all those kind of things that can be avoided by a bit of thinking ahead of time.....

Painting the figure- base tones

Ok, overdue for an update here. (mostly because I have been doing this as a build log on an other website with a lot of questions and answers)

Top pic is where I settled for the flesh tones - nice and pink. Probably a bit too pink, however, I wanted a nice, rosy hue to the girl, as by the time the jacket, the skirt and stockings were added, it would tone the entire figure down. So by making the flesh tones strong, I will balance out the other colours, and conform to the anime roots of the figure (rather then a portrait of a true figure, which would require more shading and highlights)

2nd Picture is the first coat. Which had a to yellow finish (too much ochre in my custom mix) so a repaint was in order. Never hurts to go back and rework if the first effort wasn't quite there.

Third pic is the colour swatch - because of my busy life, I find that a week or more will pass before I can get bench time, so this is a simple way of keeping track of my ratios of paint mixes. Plus, if anyone ever asks "hey, what colour did you use for X?" then I can find the answer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Micro sculpting

saw this link, and have seen some of his work on the net.

Just had to share. After all, it's not everyday that we hear of someone who sculpts stuff on the tips of pencil nubs!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mirei san; priming the figure

And then painting.

After a long time going over the figure with wet and dry sand paper, I thought I had just about got all the scratches and casting marks out....not quite. took me a few reworks, then respray, inspect......

Here is the figure at primed stage. (Vallejo Grey Primer)

Painting efforts to follow

Mirei - san; dents, dings, chips and things

....pinholes, pinholes, pinholes......

part of the casting process, no way around them, and they can be a challenge to clean up.

plus chips from travel damage too.

So broke out the putty, wet and dry sand paper, and got busy.....

Plus cleaned out some resin from between the fingers of the hands, just to add some definition.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mirei-san; first steps, fit issues

Ok, here is an example of fit issues. While nicely sculpted, the drapery* being quite ok for a figure of this size and type (anime), because of the characteristics of resin, it will shrink as it cures. To a greater or lesser degree.
(there are some casters out there that have worked out shrinkage rates, and good on them)

As can be seen, there is a huge gap along the back. The folds line up quite ok, but the there is no way around the gap; I'll have to fill it during construction. This is perhaps the worst bit of fit on my kit; thankfully, it is easy to get to, and will be mostly hidden by the back of the chair she will be sitting on.

So dry fitting of the major and minor parts has been done, and now I can proceed.

* Drapery; the behavior of fabric/ clothing as it conforms, moves or settles around the body. For an anime figure, the drapery is acceptable to realistic. For a true to life figure, it could be considered perhaps a bit over done.

Mirei-san; tools for clean up

Starting from left to right,

a pair of scalpels, one with a curved blade and stout handle, for general carving and rough tidying up. the second is a fine handle with pointed blade, I use that for cleaning up in fine areas, or doing light work.

I will change to a different shape blade if need be.

Next is a hardened steel pin mounted in the jaws of scalpel, great for cleaning out, picking out, a light re-scribing of some sculpted detail.

Next to that is a Micro Chisel, great for heavy duty cleaning up. No, I don't use a hammer, just hand power, and take off thin layers as need be. Better control that way.

For this project, my new best friend is a bottle of Vallejo plastic putty. Great stuff, effectively odorless, binds well, close to zero grain. (some fillers I've used in the past could flake away, due to grain, and other factors)

My Games workshop putty tool, actually became useful once I spent a weekend polishing the surfaces to a mirror finish. Tip to you budding sculptors out there, polish your tools. You'll be forever cleaning up rough finishes until you do!

Some rat tail files, some wet and dry sandpaper (in the upper corner) and....

the tool on the right is actually a dedicated scribing tool. Had it that long, cant remember which brand......may have been Squadron, or Micro mark, or someone completely else....
But I will be using it to re-scribe some lines that are soft/ missing!

Onto the build process!

Mirei-san ; parts lay out

Here is our subject - I have excluded the chair she sits on from the parts layout.

Please note, the torso/ skirt/ face were originally separate, I had glued these together before repacking and moving interstate.

So there are quire a few parts for this figure kit. It's not actually complex, however there is some clever engineering and thought that went into the kit breakdown, and how the parts interlock for construction.

I have been thinking long and hard (and doodling a work process on a note pad) and have decided on a the following build/ paint sequence.

- Torso, face and skirt glue together, prep, then paint
- Legs, leave separate, prep, then paint
- Match up legs to skirt, then construct chair
- Jacket, arms/ sleeves, paint
- Hands - complete and add
- Hair - probably do last
- Base, pinning.

Of course, no plan survives first contact with reality, so I will have to alter plans as needed.

Tools and equipment next post.

Mirei-san; A step by step

Ok, doing this as a step by step.

This is a resin cast garage kit, and like many garage kits, quality ranges from the superb to the rough and ragged. Mine is cast in an ivory/ off white colour resin. A bit hard when it comes to working it, but that means it will polish out scratches and take some surgery when needed. And this will need some surgery!

Generally speaking, fit ranges from great to huge gaps, usually due to the shrinkage rate of resin.

Some areas of the castings will need sanding and polishing, due to casting marks.

Air bubbles are present, and will need filling on visible areas.

onto the kit!

Friday, May 7, 2010

New Project - Mirei San

Next project, something to relax after the high energy effort (and steep learning curve) of the wedding sculpt.

so here I present to you - Mire-San, a sensual anime style piece.

Based on the illustration of Shunya Yamashita, the kit is essentially the same with the glasses being swapped out for a pen.

two different right arms are included, for choice of postures, plus the options of either hair down loose, or up in a pony tail.

More details later.

looking forward to this project......

Mr & Mrs Stokes

Congratulations to Ben and Mish, now Mr & Mrs stokes.....

don't have any photos from the wedding reception itself (relevant to the wedding sculpt) but here a some pics of the happy couple with their wedding sculpt.

they were thrilled with it.

That's all that matters.

Best wishes to my brother and Sister in law,

much love,


Wedding Sculpt - calling it Done!

Project completed.

All the little fiddly details are done (although an extra month on sculpting the heads, and painting would have been nice) I got the project to complete status.

Ok, Figures attached, the faces given eyes, lips, and hair.

Mish holds in her hand a bouquet of Cherry Blossom flowers, while Ben gives the bike some throttle.

the licence plate has Ben & Mish's initials, with the date they were married (10th April, 2010)

The road sign is made from styrene, painted to look like wood, and has the logos for double happiness (in Chinese) on it. Ben and Mish, zooming along into the future, towards "double Happiness".

You may be wondering why the thing is set up on the diagonal, and why there is such a big gap to one side?


I'll be adding a sidecar, with Mish son Tahn, and Bens dog Vin, inside at a future point.

Still, the feeling of saying "I have done all I can in the time I have had" and looking upon it, it feels good.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fitting the figures to the Bike

Ok, it looks like Killer Zombies on Bikes in these photos.....

Here is the end result of me fitting the figures to the bike after base coating them, and fixing them to the bike (thanks to that miracle product, 2 part - 5 minute epoxy resin).

Here is where a weird thing happens.....once fine fitting figures now don't want to sit in the designated slots I dry fitted them to fine.

I think that paint must have some weird properties, warping mass and space to distort fit.

Or, I missed something during planning and fitting......

The hands had been left off til now, simply so I could make a set of hands grasping the handlebars.

How? start with a flat piece of clay, wrap it around the rod/ bar/ handle /what ever in question, then sculpt your hand down from there.

Sound easy when described in a me, it aint.....

It's one of those little things that helps add to the realism of the image.....

The key elements are here; Ben, Mish, motorcycle and base. All in an Action pose.

Glad I base coated them in the correct colour before fixing them, to the bike; there is no way some of that could have been painted once put in place. Any project like this demands thinking about three steps ahead (at a minimum) and trying to work out what may work, and what might not.....then figure out a work around or a fix, even if the process doesn't even physically exist at this point in time.......

Lost some sleep doing all this, but hey, now it is really looking like the original idea I had. Always exciting to see an idea emerge into physical reality.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Figures bulked out, primed and prepped

Rather then drag you, the reader, through every step of the build up, we'll skip ahead to where I had decided that I had hit the point of diminishing returns on the faces and bodies.....

I ended up baking these figures for a good time; the figures ended up a dark brown colour.


Definitely set though. Any more work needed on this would require carving, files and sandpaper.....

Gave them a coat in Vallejo grey primer, after washing the figures in soap and water.

Once the primer coat was dry, laid down some base coats. Blue for the jeans and denim skirt, flesh tones where needed, and Andrea grey for the jackets (part of their Black set)

Hands I was going to wait till final fitting to bike. Bens hands needed to grip the handles, while Mish had to grip Ben, and a bouquet of Cherry Blossoms.

I think this was taken very late one night, after a full day on the project.